Home Open Account Help 246 users online

Railfan Technology > Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans


Date: 11/01/16 19:05
Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: wa4umr

I ran across this on a local area Facebook group.  Those on here that are accomplished photographers may disagree with a few items or have other preferences but over all, it offers some common sense suggestions for those that are fairly new DSLR to the world of DSLR cameras.  I have always suggested that people learn how to use some of the manual settings.  In the long run, it will teach you something about how to handle difficult lighting situationrs, the ones that tend to trick you internal light meter.

http://blog.traingeek.ca/2014/10/recommended-camera-settings-for-railfans.html

If you are new to the DSLR experience, get out there and fill up those memory cards.  You learn what works and what doesn't by doing.  You learn what doesn't work also by doing.  This ain't film so it doesn't cost anything to try something new.

John



Date: 11/02/16 04:25
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: kgmontreal

It's a shame that digital cameras don't come with that little folded piece of paper that came in the yellow Kodak film boxes.  One of the first things it said was "When shooting a photo stand with your back to the sun".  In other words, don't shoot from the wrong side of the sun.  That simple piece of advice is lost on many Trainorders contributors.  I'm sorry to say it but there are some simply terrible photos being posted on this site.

All the suggestions about setting one's DSLR to manual are fine.  But a photographer should also follow a few simple rules of composition:

1. Shoot from the sunny side of the tracks.

2.  Hold the camera level.

3.  If there's a pole or tree between the camera and the locomotive move to one side so that you get a clear, unobstructed view of the subject.

4.  Don't shoot into the sun.

5.  If possible show the entire train disappearing into the distance.  Don't cut off the photo behind the first car.

Yes, I know that some of our hobby's greatest photograpers broke these rules.  But that came after many years of experience.  If you're new to the game don't break the rules.

KG
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/16 05:20 by kgmontreal.



Date: 11/02/16 09:34
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: bioyans

kgmontreal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> 3.  If there's a pole or tree between the camera
> and the locomotive move to one side so that you
> get a clear, unobstructed view of the subject.

This is, quite possibly, the TOP bit of advice that some of the fans here could use.  There are a few on TO who almost ALWAYS manage to get some sort of obstruction between them and the train, and it completely ruins the shot.  Not to mention, the same culprits often don't know how to set their auto focus and/or aperature properly.  What they end up with, is the sign/post/weeds, you-name-it in perfect focus, but the train very OUT of focus.

They really need to take a look at some of the "Images of the Day," and learn from them.  Heck ... Mitch Goldman shoots a lot of stuff along the NEC ... which can be a photographer's nightmare with catenary poles, guy wires, and all sorts of other assorted clutter.  Yet, do you ever see any of them smack in front of the subject he is trying to capture?  NO!!!  Why?  Well, other than he is an absolute artist, it is because he makes a very determined effort to make sure they aren't in the way.  That's the difference between simply taking pictures, and being a photographer.



Date: 11/02/16 09:59
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: chessie-2117

bioyans Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
That's the difference between simply
> taking pictures, and being a photographer.

Exacty.  But, we all should realize that some on TO have little interest
other than taking a choo-choo picture.  
One bit of advice for folks intersted in improvement, spend some time 
with folks in your area that know how to take a photo.  From camera 
settings, to composition, there's tons that can be learne by simply paying
attention and observing.  
The best advice I can take from the article  is to shoot in RAW.  It
provides a ton more lead way in editing, and when things go astray with
camera settings such as shutter speed, ISO settings, ect.  Of course, we
should want the camera setting as close to right as possible to start with, but things
sometimes go wrong.

JWR



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/16 11:26 by chessie-2117.



Date: 11/02/16 17:33
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: norm1153

I don't want to rain on anybody's ego trip, but some of the still photos (and video clips) that I shot over 35 years ago would not exist at all if I had followed those rules. 



Date: 11/02/16 18:52
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: jkh2cpu

Those 'rules' are a starting point. Test shots
are always cheap with digi, and they allow you
to dial in your shot.

If you think it's all in the camera, go check
out your editor, because that editor can make
an otherwise poor shot into the silk purse you
wanted in the first place.

Lots of practice is a good idea, so I'm always
trying to stretch the limits of me, the camera
and the editor... Must be another 'triangle.'

John.



Date: 11/04/16 18:55
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: cchan006

norm1153 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't want to rain on anybody's ego trip, but
> some of the still photos (and video clips) that I
> shot over 35 years ago would not exist at all if I
> had followed those rules.

I'd be happy to follow the "rules" as guidelines instead. We've seen some draconian insistence by non-contributors regarding "rules" on how to shoot video, for example, put the camcorder on a tripod and use it like a still camera, and do nothing else. Whatever.

I second what jkh2cpu said, especially since digital cameras are more forgiving than film cameras regarding "bad" lighting. That doesn't mean people should ignore the above guidelines on lighting and composition. However, some of the accomplished photogs here on TO have shot in challenging light very well, when geography, mother nature, and/or "act of God" didn't allow the "rules" to be followed.



Date: 11/08/16 12:39
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

And, expect a fast train, at any time, on any track, in any direction, or you and your DSLR might get squashed.



Date: 11/08/16 23:56
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: CimaScrambler

Just like the wag said about street photography long ago:  f/8 and be there.  It amazes me how often that formula works.  f/8 provides reasonably good depth of field with a normal lens, really good with a wide lens.  It is the perfect baseline for experimenting with depth of field.
How I use my DSLR depends on a lot of things, but if I'm shooting from the sunny side of the tracks, f/8 and be there seems to be the next step beyond just basic composition of the image in the frame.  With a regular DSLR, that means aperture priority mode.
I'm sure other folks will have other opinions, this is just what seems to work for me.
- Kit

ps:  "The Rules" are important if you don't understand how your camera reacts to light to make an image.  The more you know about how a camera translates the light entering the lens into an image, the less you rely on rules and the more you rely on your creative instincts.  Study how a camera makes an image, both in terms of what the lens and shutter do, as well as how the brightnesses of the subject get turned into tones in the photographic image.  There is a lot to it, but it is not beyond the capacity of a person of average intelligence to grasp.  Don't be afraid of the words "Zone System of Exposure", and be prepared to read or attend workshops on the subject if you want to get really good at having your camera render the image you have visualized.

Kit Courter
Torrance, CA
LunarLight Photography



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/16 00:02 by CimaScrambler.



Date: 11/09/16 08:21
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: march_hare

My version:

Get out there with what you have.  One of the more famous non-railfan photographers was quoted as saying that the best camera to use was the one you have with you.  True, true, true.  A lot of what makes for a good photo is simply showing up (and maybe keeping the photo for a few years until it can't be done again).

Biggest single error I see in newbies is failure to use a high enough shutter speed.  Unless you're deliberately going for a blur, keep the shutter speed at 1/500 or faster.  If that doesn't get you enough depth of field, turn up the speed setting until it does.  Most digital cameras today take great photos at ASA 400, and the better DSLRs can go much higher than that.  The small price you pay in granularity and digital noise is worth it when compared to motion blur or poor depth of field.

Obstructions and lighting are indeed important.  Learn to recognize unsightly foreground crap, and reposition yourself to get it out of the way.  As for lighting, be aware of the sun, but don't be a prisoner to it.  "Over the shoulder" lighting is often desirable.  But if you see something that looks kinda cool in the opposite direction, shoot it now and delete it later if you don't like it.  And cloudy days look just fine on digital if you crank the ASA high enough.

Electrons are cheap.  Memory cards are cheap.  Time trackside (especially once you're working for a living) is NOT cheap, and often NOT widely available.  If you see something, shoot something.

Perfectly ordinary train photos can be things of joy a decade or two after they were taken.  Fine wine starts out as grape juice that has been properly handled, stored, and put in a place where you can find it.  (Do as I say, not as I do--I'm terrible about indexing photos and returning them to file after scanning or publication.)

Pay attention to things that are going away (Alcos, SD40s, signals, stations and industrial structures) but don't let this convince you that it's all crap now, or that nothing new is worth your attention.  There are cool NEW things happening that are worth your while.  Got a new light rail or commuter operation in your area?  Go shoot the crap out of it.  It will NOT look like it does now for long.  Early GE widecabs are now on scrap lines, and they'll probably all be there in another decade or two.  Oil trains may be a thing of the past in not too many years.



Date: 12/06/16 20:11
Re: Recommended Camera Settings For Railfans
Author: agrafton

manual setting; 500 sec speed ; f5:6



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.1165 seconds